Health minister refuses to rule out 'Airbnb care' idea to ease NHS pressures
A proposal for trained B&B owners to look after discharged patients should be considered, a health minister said this morning - just days after a similar idea sparked outrage.
Philip Dunne said the Government and NHS should “not close our minds to looking at new ways of doing things”.
An NHS hospital in Essex was forced to back down this week over plans to offer people £1,000 a month to host recovering patients in their spare rooms.
Shadow Care Minister Barbara Keeley had branded the idea - by Airbnb-style start-up CareRooms - “terrifying” and warned of the “clear safety risks”.
But Mr Dunne refused to rule out a similar idea and said B&B providers who had nursing qualifications or other relevant training might want to set up facilities for low-risk patients in their homes.
“We can’t close our minds to looking at new ways of doing things and providing care,” he told Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics.
“There may be some specialists who have the relevant experience - there may be B&B providers who have nurse training or have worked in residential care - who may wish to set up that kind of facility.”
And he added: “Anything innovative needs to be very carefully scrutinised and assessed before we proceed with it.
“But I wouldn’t immediately as a knee jerk say that new models of care in the community are necessarily wrong.”
It emerged this week that Southend Hospital in Essex had been in talks with the local council about setting up an Airbnb-style care scheme.
CareRooms was recruiting hosts without care experience to house patients for up to £50 a night as part of a pilot scheme.
But after the story broke the hospital said: "Whilst we welcome and encourage new ideas and innovation, there is no intention and there never has been for the hospital to support this pilot at this time."